So you have a story? That's great. Now, what are you going to do with it?
Now think about this carefully.
Why do you want to be published? Is it for the money? Perhaps you just wish to educate people, or to make your opinions, your talent, or your ideas known? - Publishers will want to know that you know what you are doing and understand everything that is involved. They are only interested in the money side of things and will, in turn, expect you to know your financial stuff, so to speak.
Are you 'good enough' to be published? - If you, yourself, answer 'no', then don't bother. You are your own best and worst critic, after all. But, don't worry. All that means is you have a lot more practicing to do to better yourself. There is no greater satisfaction than bettering oneself.
Are you 100% accurate in your depictions etc? - After all, you wouldn't want to write a book with inaccuracies, now would you? If you aren't sure about something, always do your research. Talk to people who specialize in that area. If its about a war, see if you can talk to veterans, or maybe just look up as many websites as you can to be sure you have everything spot on.
Always question yourself before going ahead with anything.
Are you 100% satisfied with your work? I mean, seriously... If you are not happy with it, then how can anyone else be? Sure, it can be a real pain in the butt having to edit it and come up with new things for it, but it is really worth it in the end.
ALWAYS make sure you are happy with your work before you even CONSIDER getting it looked at by a publishing house
You will have to be sure that you spell-check your work and 'proofread' it. 'Proofread' it over and over again. 'Proofread' it so many times that you are so certain that everything is in order, you'd bet your house on it. Also, get others to 'proofread' it for you. They will often find mistakes that you will probably have missed. You can also send it to a 'proofreading' service, who will give it a once-over and edit it accordingly. (This will, of course, cost you money, but it is a very good way of ensuring that your work is 100% mistake free. However, some services offer a no charge guarantee if they do not meet your expectations.)
Target Audience & Guidelines
Your publishing house will, of course, depend on your target audience. Many people actually start off writing with a view of being published by a specific house, but that often leads to disappointment and, more often than not, a heck of a lot of problems when they turn them down. If you have a publisher in mind, then all well and good, but do you know that they are going to like your work? Does your work adhere to their guidelines? Oh yes, there are guidelines. Most publishing houses will actually send you a copy of them, if you ask them nicely. The houses are often very strict with their guidelines. (For example, issues such as length, how many characters you have in your story, background stories, character development and so on and so forth.)
Here is a basic check list for you to follow:
- Write down all the potential publishing houses you can think of. (Make sure to keep on the lookout. Many new publishers will be more willing to accept new writers, as they will not have their own author list yet.) The best place to find lists are in writing magazines and such. Although, there is this new invention called '[I]the internet[/I]' which will be of remarkable in your quest.
- Do research into which would be the most suitable for your work. (IE: Do they publish similar works to yours?) Always choose the ones that have published similar works to yours and don't take risks by submitting writing to the wrong type of publisher. (Imagine the disgust that a publishing house that specializes in horror would feel if they received a story about a pink, fluffy unicorn called Bessie?)
- Create a writing portfolio. This can be anything from a selection of files on a small USB memory stick, to published works, or even hand written/printed out sheets.
Publishers enjoy when a person is fully prepared. This will mean having all your documents to hand at any given time. Create for yourself a written portfolio. This will do wonders and help publishers see exactly what your style is and what you have (Potentially.) to offer. You can do this in any way you like, be it a hand written selection, or digital files. It is also helpful to create a professional profile online.
Everyone out there who wishes to get somewhere in their chosen career can't do any harm by joining sites like LinkedIn. There you'll be able to create a professional profile by adding previous jobs and current occupations, as well as detailing what it is you are looking to achieve in the future. On the site, you can link with other people and also be offered suitable jobs should a company spot you.
While you do have to pay a subscription fee for SOME features, I always found that (With a good profile.) you can get by just fine with the basic, free account. (I have had quite a few job offers, in fact.)
But, remember people. SERIOUS USE ONLY.
(If you have a profile/make one, feel free to PM me if you wish to connect. I may have some contacts or advice to help you out.)
Check your genre carefully.
If you find a suitable house, follow their guidelines to a tee. Try not to make too many mistakes, or they won't be very forgiving and won't publish your book.
Its a sad fact, but most writers who submit their works to publishing houses will be rejected. If you are one of these people, don't be discouraged! Keep trying. Persistence pays off. Remember, it took Jacqueline Wilson (Author of 'The Story of Tracy Beaker') over 20 years before she even got her first book published.
However, if you really have given up all hope that you will never get your works published, then fear not. There is always another option.
Self Publishing is one route that many writers go down after they have been discouraged by being rejected by publishing houses. There are many websites that will do this free of charge, but work on a commission-based selling system. (If you are familiar with 'CafePress', then you will know exactly what I am talking about.)
The best way of doing it is to write you book, market it (Advertise etc.), order copies of it to distribute among family and friends and so on and so forth. Some even find that they become better known by leaving copies around their towns (Like the 'Traveling book' idea that was popular not so long ago.), or ask if independent stores can sell their books.
You have to remember that if you decide to self-publish, you will be in charge of everything. You won't have a publishing house backing you up and advertising for you, you will have to do it all on your own. It is also potentially expensive. In order to self-publish commercially (As in, if you wish to sell your books in stores.), you must purchase an ISBN number. (To you and me, that is the code that all books have that is usually found above the barcode on the dust cover.) These are important and can cost upwards of £50.
List of Publishing Houses
Self Publishing Links
http://www.writersworld.co.uk (UK site)